The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music
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What is involved in the composition, performance, and reception of classical music? What are we doing when we listen to this music seriously? Why when playing a Beethoven sonata do performers begin with the first note indicated in the score; why don't they feel free to improvise around the sonata's central theme? Why, finally, does it go against tradition for an audience at a concert of classical music to tap its feet? Bound up in these questions is the overriding question of what it means philosophically, musically, and historically for musicians to speak about music in terms of "works".
In this book, Lydia Goehr describes how the concept of a musical work fully crystallized around 1800, and subsequently defined the norms, expectations, and behavioral patterns that have come to characterize classical musical practice. The description is set in the context of a more general philosophical account of the rise and fall of concepts and ideals, and of their normative functions; at the same time, debates amongst conductors, early-music performers, and avant-gardists are addressed.
The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works is a seminal work of scholarship, and has appeared in an astonishing variety of contexts and disciplines from musicological and philosophical since its initial publication. This second edition features a new Introductory Essay by the author, discussing the genesis of her groundbreaking thesis, how her subsequent work has followed and developed similar themes, and how criticisms along the way have informed not only her own work but the "Imaginary Museum" concept more generally as it spread across disciplinary lines. A provocative foreword by Richard Taruskin contextualizes Goehr's argument and points to its continuing centrality to the field.
of music preceding it. The idea of a living tradition is crucial to our understanding, experience, and evaluation of musical works. Yet non-exhibited properties, and related judgements making reference to a musical tradition, cannot be spoken of with regard simply to the sound structure of a given work. Thus, Levinson reminds us, the work and its constitutive sound structure are not identical. With regard to (iii): Levinson is led to conceive of a musical work as ontologically related to a
enjoy a very obscure mode of existence; they are ‘ontological mutants’.3 Works cannot, in any straightforward sense, be physical, mental, or ideal objects. They do not exist as concrete, 3 I have borrowed this phrase from Alan Tormey. See his ‘Indeterminacy and Identity in Art’, Monist, 58 (1974), 207. INTRODUCTION 3 physical objects; they do not exist as private ideas existing in the mind of a composer, a performer, or a listener; neither do they exist in the eternally existing world of
ideal, uncreated forms. They are not identical, furthermore, to any one of their performances. Performances take place in real time; their parts succeed one another. The temporal dimension of works is different; their parts exist simultaneously. Neither are works identical to their scores. There are properties of the former, say, expressive properties, that are not attributable to the latter. And if all copies of the score of a Beethoven Symphony are destroyed, the symphony itself does not
concepts those expressed within a (Carnapian) formal, or what has been called an ideal or exact, language? No, to the extent that this understanding leads us to deny there are concepts, such as ‘quart’ and ‘freshman’, that are closed yet do not belong to what we usually call a formal language. Still, we are moving towards a plausible description. Thus closed concepts function within systems or practices requiring different kinds of formality, exactness, or precision. While mathematical and
approximate to the condition of music. ‘For,’ Pater explains, ‘while in all other kinds of art it is possible to distinguish the matter from the form, and the understanding can always make this distinction, yet it is a constant effort of art to obliterate it’ (‘The School of Giorgione’, 86). 226 Danto provides an explanation that does not explicitly depend upon a romantic thesis, though it would still be fair to say that many modern views are more sober expressions of views ﬁrst put forward in